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Budget2000 Tuesday, 21 March, 2000, 22:24 GMT
Brown the mugger, says Hague
William Hague: Warning of more taxes to come
Conservative leader William Hague has attacked Chancellor Gordon Brown's fourth Budget, saying that taxes will rise by "stealth".

Addressing MPs after the Budget statement, the Tory leader likened Mr Brown to a "mugger" who expects the public to be grateful for having their money taken away from them.


The tax burden is rising in Britain and it will continue to rise

William Hague
Mr Hague repeated his charge that under Labour people paid more money in tax but received worse public services.

He told MPs: "Labour are taxing more but delivering less."

The Budget comes barely a week after Labour published figures showing the tax burden has risen since the party came to power in 1997.

The Tory leader also accused Mr Brown, to Labour jeers, of giving "incomplete accounts of the Budget".

'Billions more in tax'

Mr Hague said Labour MPs were "cheering in the naive belief that they have got the full picture" of the chancellor's spending plans.

Then it turns out, added Mr Hague, "that the full picture is rather different".

He predicted that 4.5bn in tax rises would be heading the public's way in the next few months.

Then he took Labour to task over its record on public services. Mr Hague said: "The waiting list to get on the waiting lists is longer and class sizes have actually increased.

"The chancellor boasts of tax cuts but he has given with one hand but taken away much more with the other."

'Brain drain'

The Tory leader also condemned the chancellor's proposals for families. He said they would be penalised by the introduction of the children's tax credit, which replaces the married couple's allowance.

Turning to the government's hopes of building up e-commerce, Mr Hague told the chancellor: "Your new stealth tax on self-employed contractors is destroying all of that.

"You are the first man since Lord Healey to create a brain drain in this country."

Mr Brown had also "forgotten about the difficulties faced by manufacturing and the crisis faced by agriculture".

'Spending for a second term'

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy told the House Mr Brown was "spending for a second term" in office.


Marvellous, one quid a week extra for pensioners

Charles Kennedy
He welcomed the additional funds for the NHS, but wondered why it had not been done earlier.

An impassioned Mr Kennedy said that already "too many operations have been cancelled and too many patients have died".

And four times the amount of money was being invested in tax cuts than in new funds for education, he added.

Turning to the rise in pensions, he said the government's new measures added "insult to injury" for the elderly.

"Marvellous. One quid a week extra for pensioners," he said with irony.

It was at least, he said, an improvement on the 75p previously planned.

John Swinney of the Scottish National Party said the Budget had not given enough money to public services.

"Looking back at the winter crisis that we had in the health service in Scotland and looking at the deficits facing hospital trusts in Scotland, I can't see the resources announced by the chancellor today attacking the real public expectations of what the health service should be."

Plaid Cmyru MP Simon Thomas had similar concerns.

He said the deficit problems in the NHS in Wales "would not be overcome".

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
William Hague
"Brown is a tax raising chancellor"
Charles Kennedy
"Spending for a second term"
Michael Portillo, Shadow Chancellor
"They're in great danger of doing wrong things"

Talking PointTALKING POINT
Brown's Budget
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See also:

21 Mar 00 | UK Politics
20 Mar 00 | Business
21 Mar 00 | UK Politics
20 Mar 00 | Business
11 Mar 00 | Budget2000
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